Overloaded streets make driving, parking difficult near high school


Photo Credit: Julia Rooney

During school hours, The Hamilton Circle is only made accessible to emergency vehicles.

by Julia Rooney, Managing Editor

In a town less than three square miles, it might be expected that most students would walk to school each morning. Yet, the vast majority of students, approximately 85 percent, travel to school by car.

The Glen Rock High School zone was not designed to handle as much traffic as it does today, however.

In an attempt to increase the safety of both walkers and motorists, a Glen Rock Police Department Officer is assigned to conduct traffic at the intersection of Hamilton and Harristown Avenues at the beginning and end of each school day.

Another crossing guard is posted at the Hamilton Avenue and Belmont Road entrance to both the middle school and high school.

Controlling the inflow of students rushing across the street in time to be seated for a 7:50 a.m. class is a tall order for one man. Along with creating a serious crossing guard job application, The Glen Rock Police Department encourages parents to teach their children the importance of following the instructions of a guard.

The idea of hiring someone to assist street-crossing was brought to the school district in the early 1950’s, when it was uncommon to drive to school.

More than half of students walked to school in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and heat until 30 years ago, when driving became more popular. Parking spots were open for students on Kirkwood and Radburn (by the tennis courts), but never on the side of houses.

Today, student drivers struggle with the lack of parking spots surrounding the high school, resorting to parking in front of residences on bordering streets.

Senior Deirdre Meaney drives herself to and from school each day, parking on a side street to Harristown Avenue.

“I think that it’s fine that students drive to school, but I think that there should be better parking if it could be possible,” Meaney said. “The parking can get kind of crazy and aggressive some days.”

The Glen Rockers Facebook group has recently received posts from residents concerned about students driving to school and the rules on parking. Some group members have suggested that parking on Radburn Road should be limited to four hours only.

Liz Cox, a Glen Rock resident for 43 years, has weighed in on the topic, supporting the students who drive to school. Several students park on Cox’s street for the entirety of the school day, but it has not posed an inconvenience for her.

“I don’t feel the students who drive are the problem,” Cox said. “I drove to school at GRHS when I got my license.”

As a mother of two, traffic safety is of course a concern for Cox, especially to ensure that her eldest son, Dylan, was careful walking to the middle school.

“It became a big concern when Dylan went to sixth grade,” said Cox whose son is now in eighth grade. “It’s drop-off and pick-up that is the problem. Drop-off is a nightmare. No one stops for kids to cross.”

At the start of the school year, the middle school sent out a letter to parents reminding them of traffic safety rules, stating, “Encourage your children to walk on the sidewalks, look both ways when crossing the street, use the crosswalk, and cross by the crossing guard.”

Superintendent Dr. Paula Valenti sent parents of high school students a similar letter, geared towards student drivers. She wrote, “If you have a young driver in the household, please remind them of the importance of vigilance behind the wheel and help them develop good organizational skills so they are able to allow plenty of time to arrive at school safely.”

The mornings can be hectic with both students and faculty finding parking.

For Assistant Principal Michael Pasciuto, the biggest concern regarding drop off and dismissal hours is safety.

During the Fall of 2015, after speaking to state officials from Homeland Security and The State Department of Education, Pasciuto and Administrators made the decision to block of the Hamilton Circle with traffic cones.

“Last year we tried to put cones up in the morning, before school, and people were getting outside of their cars and moving the cones, and the traffic at that entrance became so much with people dropping off different things,” Pasciuto said.

In an effort to ease traffic flow and mainly to increase safety, this year the entrance into the Hamilton Lobby is blocked off during school hours.

“We block it during the day completely with those longer parking cones cause they’re a little harder to move,” said Pasciuto. “They’re also moveable in case of an emergency situation. We can get there and move them quickly before an ambulance comes in or for the police to come in.”

Outside of the school zone, the students have their right to park, with regulations. Parents are permitted to drop off their children inside of the school zone, following the signs.

Parents and students are urged by administrators and law enforcement officers to follow the rules, be alert and make traffic safety a priority.